Drivers hit with steep garage costs

The cost of servicing a car is rising sharply, with some garages charging labour rates of up to £200 an hour but independent garages offer better value for money, according to a survey.

Research by Warranty Direct showed labour rates for mechanics have increased 11.3% since the summer of 2006, with the average now £75.17 an hour.

The average franchise dealer is now charging £94.70 an hour compared with £87.91 in 2006 - a rise of 7.7%.

The average rate for a mechanic at an independent garage has risen 14.9% over the same period - from £48.43 to £55.63.

Warranty Direct analysed labour rates at nearly 2,000 garages to highlight the dramatic price differences that occur across the country.

Greater London is the most expensive region at £94.26 an hour. This compares with £68.70 for Edinburgh, £78.81 across Merseyside and a similar figure of £78.01 for Cornwall.

London was also home to the most expensive dealer, charging £198.86 an hour.

Warranty Direct managing director Duncan McClure Fisher said: "This is not great news for motorists who are already feeling the pinch at the pumps.

"Car sales are falling, used-car residuals are falling, and people are putting off that annual service. As economic conditions worsen, prices could rise further to compensate the general downward trend."

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